Andy Ruiz Jr. just became boxing’s next big breakthrough star.
The Mexican American heavyweight was already a known and respected commodity in the boxing world when he stepped up to challenge the undefeated Anthony Joshua for the unified WBA/WBO/IBF/IBO heavyweight titles. But his unexpected victory over the champ at Madison Square Garden on June 1— already being called one of the greatest underdog victories in the sport — captured hearts all over the world and made him an instant international sensation.
Now both long-term and very recently converted boxing fans are eager to learn more about their new hero. Who is Andy Ruiz Jr? What is his training and competition history? And what’s in Andy Ruiz Jr’s future? Let’s take a closer look at the reigning WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight champion.
Andy Ruiz Jr: The Early Years
Andy Ruiz Jr. was born on September 11, 1989 in Imperial, California, where his parents had immigrated from Mexico. As the boxer told Premier Boxing Champions in an April interview, they were neither poor nor rich when he was growing up. Ruiz started boxing when he was six years old, after being introduced to the sweet science by his dad. His father also enlisted him into the family construction business in an effort to keep him busy in his youth, but Ruiz’s interests were elsewhere. “My father and I used to argue,” he told the outlet. “Because all I was thinking about was boxing.”
When his father told him that he had to fully commit to either construction or boxing, Ruiz invested everything in his dream and headed to Mexico to train.
Andy Ruiz Jr’s Amateur Boxing Career
Ruiz flourished as an amateur boxer, earning an impressive 105-5 record that included two gold medals at the Mexican National Junior Olympics. Ruiz also competed for a spot on Mexico’s team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but lost during the qualifying rounds.
Andy Ruiz Jr’s Professional Boxing Career
Ruiz turned pro when he was 19 years old, winning his debut match against Miguel Ramirez with a first round knockout on March 28, 2009. Over the course of a decade, he has gone on to earn a 33-1 record, with 22 of those victories coming via knockout. His only loss was a close mixed decision defeat against Joseph Parker, whom he fought for the vacant World Boxing Organization World Heavyweight Title in Aukland, New Zealand on December 10, 2016.
He’s come back from that disappointment with a perfect record, though, and was ready to take any opportunity that might come up in the boxing world. Which is exactly what he did when Joshua’s initial opponent, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, was barred from competition after testing positive for PEDs.
Andy Ruiz Jr. vs Anthony Joshua
Andy Ruiz Jr was officially confirmed as the new contender for Anthony Joshua’s MSG June 1st main event just a month before the big fight.
In the weeks leading up to the bout, the boxer was treated as more of a human interest story than a serious threat. Articles respectfully highlighted what an inspiration his story was and how much a win could mean to his community, given that it would make him the first person of Mexican descent to hold a heavyweight championship in boxing. His thicker atypical fame — one not generally associated with elite athletes in our hyper-image-obsessed culture — drew some curious onlookers from outside of the boxing world. But Joshua’s victory was treated as all but a foregone conclusion. Bookers put Ruiz’s odds of victory at just 12-1 as of Saturday.
Once the two were in the ring, though, everything changed. Joshua briefly seemed to have the upper hand when he sent Ruiz to the canvas in the third, but Ruiz not only got back up, he sent Joshua down twice before the end of the round. When he dropped Joshua two more times in the seventh, referee Mike Griffin called it at 1:27 into the round. Andy Ruiz Jr defeated Anthony Joshua by TKO to become the new WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO champ.
“I just feel so good, man,” Ruiz said after the fight. “This is what I have been dreaming about. This is what I have been working hard for. I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true. I just want to thank my team and my family. The sky is the limit, baby.”
What’s Next For Andy Ruiz Jr.?
It looks like Andy Ruiz Jr’s next opponent will be… Anthony Joshua! The dethroned boxer had a rematch clause in his contract and he has chosen to trigger that. Ruiz has said that he will take a rematch at any time. Joshua’s promoter has stated that the fight is expected to happen in either November or December, and that the venue will be announced shortly.
Ruiz will be ready for that fight, but he’s currently taking a little time to enjoy his monumental victory. “Right now, I just want to celebrate,” he said. “I just made history for Mexico. This is what I have been dreaming about since I was 6 years old.”